If you have followed along with me in my first couple of posts, you may know now that I suffered from postpartum depression and anxiety after my second pregnancy with the twins. It was tough to share, but it also felt so good to hear from others about their experiences and also because its my truth and I feel that I learned so much from this chapter. God is continually growing me in this process and I want to share with you what he is making apparent to me so that I can be myself again. Most of my anxiety stems from me trying to make everything I am a part of “perfect” – even relationships. As I have learned a ton in finding my strength in this chapter of motherhood, I have had to accept more of the mess to be able to be free of the anxiety and PPD that I felt. I want to share some of the thoughts I have had on the matter and hope you can relate to them also.
I have worked in education for almost 10 years. When I had my first daughter, I felt that my strength was in being a working mom, lead teacher, best friend, best sister, best daughter, best wife that juggled all the hats. I was strong because I was doing it all. Then I had twins and stopped working to stay home and raise my family. I struggled with finding my strength, my purpose, what drove me to feel like I was accomplished. Since I wasn’t working, “perfection” turned into being my ultimate goal. In this process of fulfilling my goal, it took me on a downward spiral in the mental health department. A lot of women when they first enter motherhood seek perfection. We want to avoid all mistakes because of the love we have for our family and for our children. We want the very best for them – all things perfect. We feel an insane pressure to be the perfect creator, facilitator, providers- just the absolute BEST! We can be all of these things. But does it have to be perfect? Girlllll stop! You can have a ton of strengths but not be PERFECT!
We are quick to crown ourselves as having failed to be perfect when we do perfectly human things—like losing our patience, or feeling overwhelmed, or doing something that we swore we would never, ever, do when we became mothers. (Guilty!!!) The past couple of weeks, multiple friends have talked to me about losing their tempers and doing things they said they would never do. They label themselves as failing immediately because they are not perfect. We are driving ourselves insane ladies!!
How do we avoid the pressure of being that “perfect parent”? It comes at us from all angles, external sources and the pressure we put on ourselves. Girl – do you have the “perfect” nursery? Did you plan the “perfect” birthday party? Did you bake the most organic and “perfect” dinner? Did you get all of your kids on the waitlist for the “perfect” school? Did you teach them the “perfect” manners? Did you get the “perfect” body back immediately after giving birth to your “perfect” baby who never misbehaves because you are doing it all “perfectly”. Did you read the baby books? If you did, your baby will be a “perfect” sleeper. Stop Stop Stop! T. Swift said it best “You need to calm down, you’re being too loud.” All of this is like sensory overload in my head.
We live in a world where we focus on our weaknesses because we can look around at our circle of friends like we are the runt of the liter because we compare ourselves.
• Ashley’s house looks like Joanna Gaines is throwing a ship lap party, while I cannot even see out
of my glass door because of fingerprints.
• Jessica’s kids were potty trained out of the womb while mine could give a crap – literally!
• Cassie’s kids have never tasted sugar, while mine is on her second uncrustable.
In addition to all that, somehow we also expect to miraculously be the ‘perfect’ spouse, the ‘perfect’ daughter, the ‘perfect’ employee, and the ‘perfect’ friend. Whatever all of those things really mean.
We ask so much of ourselves. We ask too much of ourselves.
There is a difference between striving to do our very best for our children, and striving for perfection. And the thing is, if we are putting our all into parenting—the issue is not the effort we’re exerting or the ideals we hold as our goal—but rather, the fact that when we fall short of our perfectionist expectations, we come down so hard on ourselves. I see this in myself, I see this with my best friends, I see this with my own mama.
“Perfect” is unattainable, gals! It also has so many different meanings to so many different people. Wouldn’t you agree? And here’s the thing: if our children see us coming down so hard on ourselves when we miss the mark of perfection, we’re just accelerating this EXHAUSTING, unrealistic and unhealthy picture of how we are meant to live our lives.
SO – If I want to raise my kids to be kind, gentle, confident, compassionate souls, I need to model this towards MYSELF! How do I expect them to learn this if I don’t? I want them to know its okay to make mistakes. I want them to know you need immense amount of courage and resilience in this judgmental, dangerous and sometimes scary world we live in- to get back up from something that can knock you flat on your face. If I want them to learn courage and resilience, I need to model it!
The beautiful thing is that our children can often be the best teachers when it comes to this. They rarely give up if they are trying something and do not do it perfectly.
So the next time you lay your head on your pillow at night and start counting the ways you fell short of parenting perfection that day, I want you to think about all the weaknesses you confronted, all the things you learned that day and all the future opportunities that you will continue to encounter so that you can keep getting better.
I also want you to remember this: embracing the imperfect and focusing your energies on accepting your humanity, building your resilience and nurturing your perseverance—that? That is one of the greatest gifts you will ever give to your children.
I say all of this because, THIS ladies—is your strength. It is okay if your strength looks differently in this chapter of life. Don’t let a new chapter, a rough chapter, a great chapter, a heartbreaking chapter, an anxious chapter, define your strength. The strength you possess may just look different. Embrace more grace over perfection and turn it into strength. Embrace your weaknesses in this chapter – it will only make you stronger.
GO be Strong Mama!!!!